Carley Scott - Sanguine and Transformative

What are your “and” words and why? Sanguine and Transformative. Everyone has strengths that define them. How you find your strengths is part of your story. Early on, I learnt that conscious optimism and deliberate transformative action were useful. At age 11, a close family friend picked me up from school to go to my mother. She was in the hospital and I would not be allowed to see her for some time. She was not conscious, a stroke taking her mobility, speech, memory and all sensitivity down one side of her body. Doctors were not sure how well she would recover. For my mother, at age 36, moving and even learning the name of simple items like a spoon would take some time, let alone going back to work and coming home to two children.

I was about to learn from those around me how to deal with harder times. My father dedicated himself to his family and balancing life well. Friends of parents brought pre-cooked meals and stayed in close contact. My mother pictured what she wanted and strove consistently to change her situation. They all saw a better future and worked together to realise it while my older brother and I watched and learned. When an optimistic outlook is born from a confrontation with hardship, it shakes off naïve qualities. It begins to fuel a determination to pursue actions that continue changing your situation, and your world, for the better. For me, sanguine and transformative aren’t just positive adjectives, they are learnt and chosen approaches to daily life that I truly believe can hold you in good stead in even the toughest times. It has been that way in the past for me, and now, as I work with NASA and my brilliant team on the potential to see rockets launched from Australia’s first commercial spaceport, I’m very appreciative that these two words are how people describe me: sanguine and transformative.

 What you are known for saying / a quote from you. What does this quote mean to you, (or if it’s from someone else, why does it inspire you)? “Use your passion to light the dark.” When you’re doing something hard, it can feel like the first few steps are taken alone. In those times, I find it useful to have a touchstone, or a mantra to keep you moving forward. “Use your passion to light the dark” is one of mine. Flying into a remote mining town in 2015, my eye was on the weather radar. The township was preparing for 1/3 of the population to permanently leave following the shutdown of its major employment base, metal refining. Now, the region faced a new challenge, the incoming heart of a category 3-5 cyclone. Ominous clouds were rolling in as I prepared to land. During this time, people were concerned for their future, frustrated, and sometimes scared or angry. An outsider coming to advocate for change and growth wasn’t necessarily what everyone was rooting for. But that was my job. Start a development company in the middle of a downturn and encourage the people of the region to let their passion and determination light a path toward a stronger future. For three years, every time I was questioned or told it couldn’t be done and every time the path looked challenging, I remembered to focus. Focus on the good. Focus on the possible. Putting your energy into that sort of focus keeps the light burning inside you, and when you’re lucky, it kindles a little something in those around you. When you use your passion and determination to keep yourself on track and inspire those around you – you can have influence and together, you can shape a much brighter way ahead. Today the development business is strong, annually injecting millions directly into community growth projects. The town population is booming and the local community is stepping into new, sustainable and exciting industries.

 Which other Ladybadasses inspire you and why? Penny Bingham Hall – Engaged on six highly coveted Boards in Australia, Penny has demonstrated commercial success in demanding corporate environments. As my previous mentor, Penny has helped me address some of the most extreme challenges in my personal and working life, while always demonstrating care, compassion, and candour. As with all good professional relationships, I learnt so much just from listening to how Penny managed work and personal activities that were ‘every day’ for her, but so formational in my understanding of corporate decision making, the application of good character when guiding corporate process, and, managing work and family well. Penny is a good reminder to share your story with people, and listen to theirs. You never know what you might learn from it.

 Col Pam Melroy – Retired United States Air Force officer and a former NASA astronaut, Col Melroy became the second ever female space shuttle commander. That’s 2/2 from the 70 plus commanders from over 30 years of shuttle flights into space - slim odds! We all know how hard and smart you must work to make a difference in industry, so to join Col Melroy on the inaugural AusTrade and AmCham Space Commercialisation Trade Delegation in late 2018 was one of the most inspiring ways I could have hoped to spend my week. She is a tremendous, generous, and humble person/professional who knows her industry inside out. She is highly regarded, has a passion for helping others be their best, and an integrity in how she operates. She’s my kind of Ladybadass!

 When did you first realize that you had some Ladybadassery in you? There’s a picture that my nan kept on her cupboard. A little girl with some cake in one hand, leaning over a group birthday cake with her mouth wide open, ready to eat it. Apparently you can have your cake and eat it too! While it’s a funny picture of me, it does speak of a belief that helps in life: that you should boldly pursue what you want. Today, people ask ‘how did you become the CEO?’ Whether the CEO of a Rio Tinto funded company at age 33, or of the first commercial spaceport development in Australia at 37. When people ask that question or respond to the work you do, you know there’s something about the way you’re going about your business that is at least comment worthy, maybe even a little badass. For me, ‘Ladybadassery’ isn’t a personal realisation as much as an evolution of actions, and how they’re shaped over time by the people with amazing character that surround your journey. The kind of people who encourage you to understand problems, and innately believe in your own capacity to do something to either help, or connect with the right people to help solve it. It seems that when you combine those two things through life, the ability to find problems, and, a will to attempt solving them to the benefit others, people give you a few badass credit points along the way.

 What keeps you motivated on days when you aren’t quite feeling like a Ladybadass? First, chocolate. The chocolate probably isn’t a completely healthy approach, but it always seems to be an early ‘go to.’ Even if it’s just starting your time block with the best cup of chocolate (or coffee if you prefer), some days you’ll need to count the action or flavour as your early win! Then for me, it’s almost a recipe to help improve a day. Family if I’m feeling disconnected. Friends for support. Time in nature to clear my head. A vision of the outcomes I’m seeking to add some motivation, and if I’m feeling a little overwhelmed, some planning and perspective on the big stuff in life. Because let’s face it, when you’re not feeling so badass, there are often other people facing much more challenging days and still kicking goals. I believe that allowing others to inspire and lift you, whether you know them or not, is a great idea. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy reading “Ladybadass” stories on this site.

What is your advice to other women who are trying to tap into their Ladybadassery? Spend time getting to know yourself. Regularly. Look for your strengths in the things you could spend all day learning, and your weaknesses in the negative thoughts you may have. Take time to understand why negative thoughts come up, and how to start shifting the limitations they create. Also, know what you do and how you do it is good at its core and is enough, even if you have a healthy hunger to always improve. Try to look into each conversation to see what you can learn. And importantly, get yourself out there. It’s healthy to allow people to hear your voice and see your work now, not just when some mythical future point of perfection is achieved.

Carley is the CEO of Equatorial Launch Australia, which is developing Australia's first commercial spaceport to deliver increased reliability and efficiency to the growth of Australia's space industry.